Fragrant, blended spices make Indian food, from every part of the subcontinent, so compelling and addictive. How often have I marveled at the complexity of a South Indian vegetarian meal, made of the most modest ingredients? How did this highest and most civilized of culinary cultures come about? Who figured out how to make something as fantastic as a dosa?I was thinking about this as I sat down at a little table in the front window of Gajalee’s, the new sister restaurant of the vegetarian Udupi Palace, a few blocks away on Valencia Street. Read More
After a six-month closure for remodeling, Inner Richmond favorite Le Soleil is back, turning out bright, precise Vietnamese cooking tweaked just a little by chef-owner Dennis Wong. Wong calls it “new Vietnamese cuisine.” This means, among other things, spot-on balancing of hot, sour, sweet and salty — and impeccable, greaseless deep-frying. The reassuringly small, if peripatetic, menu embraces dishes from Wong’s Vietnamese-Chinese background, his gentle innovations and Vietnamese dishes that incorporate unusual but authentic ingredients. Read More
A line of chefs connected to Chez Panisse had pretty much colonized Oakland in the last decade — helming places such as Dopo, Adesso, Camino and Pizzaiola — until Daniel Patterson moved to town.Patterson, creator of Coi in San Francisco and Il Cane Rosso, a market kitchen in the Ferry Building, has firmly planted his restaurant group’s flag in the East Bay with the cutting-edge, if moderately priced, Plum and adjacent Plum Bar, both a block from the sumptuously restored art deco Paramount Theatre. And he has just opened Haven in Jack London Square. Read More
Econ 101: Fill a need and they will come. Mutsumi Takehara — mother of two, elite pastry chef and owner of the Sandbox Bakery in Bernal Heights — wanted a place in her neighborhood where parents and kids could have a good time eating together. Her bakery started that mission two years ago, but 903, her restaurant down the block, completes it. Read More
A newcomer to Dogpatch, Gilberth’s quietly started serving a unique menu of pan-Latin American fusion last month. Without a sign, beer and wine, or news releases, its opening has been so soft, hardly anyone noticed. But once you eat there, you won’t forget it.
My road to discovery started around the block from the Workshop Residence on 22nd Street, where I was picking up some handmade Martha Davis shoes — one size 27, the other size 28. While teaching me how to put them on, the salesperson told me about Gilberth’s. Two of us walked right over for lunch. Read More
There are two kinds of Italian restaurant in San Francisco: the super popular Cal-Italian, defined by the Delfina group’s ebullient, moderately priced, local ingredient-inspired ethos; and the Italian-Italian restaurant of which Farina, and Gary Rulli’s Ristobar are prime examples. The food at Farina, however, is in a class by itself: profoundly Italian, refined, expensive and now, with Angelo Auriana as chef, transporting. Read More
Riverside Seafood Restaurant, a Sunset fixture for Cantonese cooking, acquired new owners two months ago, Susan and chef Henry Wong. They brought on two excellent new chefs, Wei Huang for dim sum and Mr. Kwan for dinner. They also spruced up the light—filled corner dining room, a cheerful and welcoming place for a family meal. This is great news for those of us who like nothing better than whiling away the afternoon sipping cleansing pu-erh tea, with many freshly made dim sum brought out hot from the kitchen. Read More
The famous, superluxe dining room at the Ritz-Carlton Hotel — where Gary Danko, Sylvain Portay and Ron Siegel created sumptuous, groundbreaking meals for more than two decades — is gone, replaced by a more casual venue called Parallel 37.Staying on during a transition that encompassed a floor-to-ceiling re-do, Siegel crafted a new, abbreviated menu that still bears his signature: high-concept French cooking with Japanese influences (he was the first American to defeat the “Iron Chef” on Japanese television) and California’s eclectic use of ingredients. Read More
Eaters in this town wondered if Original Joe’s would ever reopen after a fire destroyed it four years ago. This beloved institution, started in 1937, drew devoted customers from all walks of life to one of the funkiest blocks of the Tenderloin.
I am ecstatic to report the new Original Joe’s — in the former Fior d’Italia space in North Beach — has not only recaptured the inclusive, unpretentious spirit of the old place, but has upped the quality of both its decor and kitchen. Read More
The ideal culinary couple, chef Stuart Brioza and pastry chef Nicole Krasinski, last cooked for the public at Rubicon until Francis Ford Coppola sold it in 2008. But their luminous dinners made such an impression, their patrons swept them up for private events. When I ran into Brioza at the farmers market over the years, he seemed in no hurry to return to a restaurant. They traveled, had a baby, did ceramics and fooled around in the kitchen. Read More
According to my pocket Chinese almanac, Feb. 14 is good for repairing and leveling roads, but bad for planting or beginning a long journey. Is this a metaphorical warning? As Tuesday looms, come up with a plan or, inauspiciously, you may be hitting the road. Read More
Are these people crazy? Why bring another taqueria to the Mission where, thank goodness, $3.50 still buys a soulful taco piled high with meat, and $6.50 a burrito that satisfies all day?
Because the Mission doesn’t have anything like Tacolicious, a full-service operation with a Mexico City-style menu, an adjoining tequila bar, a tailored wine list and lovely desserts.
With its cheery, hand-wrought decor, Tacolicious fits right into the smart Valencia Street restaurant corridor. Yet it still feels home grown and a part of the larger Mission. Read More
Roostertail, a new, family-run chicken rotisserie a block from the Kabuki movie theater, captures what ingredient-crazed, vegetable-gorging, farmers market-addicted San Franciscans truly enjoy: vibrant home-style cooking.
While nothing can beat a chicken roasted at home, torn apart hot from the oven, the golden-skinned birds at Roostertail ($6.50 for a quarter; $18.50, whole) come close. The source of the birds — Mary’s Chickens, a high-quality, San Joaquin Valley poultry producer — makes all the difference. Read More
Japanese eateries of all kinds have opened in San Francisco recently, and I’ve been eating at them.
Ichi, on Mission Street near Bernal Heights, focuses on sustainable fish. About a month ago, I had delectable tuna tataki ($12.95) made with local albacore seared on the outside, cut into pink slices and dressed with fried shallots and sudachi-fragrant Japanese lime. Read More
Wo Hing General Store, the latest jewel in the Charles Phan crown, has moved back into the original Slanted Door location. Even after an artistic makeover by architect Olle Lundberg, the narrow space still echoes the sensibility of Phan’s first restaurant, which brought local ingredients and smart design to Vietnamese cooking.
Wo Hing’s chef, Michelle Mah, continues the tradition by transporting the southern Chinese food Phan grew up eating in Vietnam to this strikingly modern setting. Read More